The Institute of Psychosexual Medicine (IPM) recently voted to change its constitution to allow allied health professionals to sit its Membership level examination, entitling them to run specialist clinics for the first time.
The IPM – a registered charity that trains doctors, nurses, physiotherapists, midwives, and others across the UK – has allowed allied health professionals to sit its first-level diploma exam since 2015, but it is now inviting them to sit the next-level membership exam. Successful candidates will become full members of the IPM and, as such, will be accredited to accept private or NHS referrals.
Sheila Radhakrishnan, MD, consultant in gynaecology at the Royal Free Hospital London and IPM chair, commented: ‘This is a milestone in the history of the IPM and one we are rightly proud of. This is surely the right approach to the multi-disciplinary nature of healthcare in the 21st century. There has been an overwhelmingly favourable response to the vote and we are delighted to welcome and support allied health professionals as they work towards membership.’
Patient benefits and career opportunities
The move brings benefits for patients, while also opening up new opportunities for career progression for allied health professionals. Julia Pugh, gynaecological oncology advanced nurse practitioner, explained: ‘As a nurse or nurse specialist, we are often the consistent point of contact for patients and they feel confident about sharing the true impact of their condition or treatment on their intimate lives with us. Through IPM training, I have been able to develop my brief intervention skills for supporting patients discussing psychosexual issues. Now I am delighted to be preparing for the membership exam, as this gives recognition to the skills I have developed and the career opportunity to develop a designated service for my patients.’
Online training introduced
The IPM trains doctors, nurses, and allied health professionals across the UK and introduced online training during the pandemic, which has been highly successful and will continue alongside in-person training as COVID-19 restrictions are lifted.
IPM training is appropriate for practitioners who examine in their everyday work setting and wish to improve their skills in managing patients with psychosexual problems. Study for the diploma examination takes around two years, with work for the membership exam taking a further two to three years.
Taster course offered
Those interested in studying psychosexual medicine can take the IPM’s introductory term as a taster course. This provides 12 hours of tutorials on a range of topics and seminars where cases are discussed, with the course counting towards the diploma if candidates choose to continue their studies.
The IPM can also arrange bespoke training to suit the needs of specific healthcare teams or departments. For more information on the IPM’s training or to register for courses, visit their website or contact: IPMtraining@ipm.org.uk; updates from the IPM are also available via its Twitter and Facebook accounts.